LGBTQI activists rallied in Oxford Street’s Taylor Square, against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill on Sunday afternoon.

Organised by the Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR), speakers included Mardi Gras 78er Karl Zlotkowski, activist and Drag Race Down Under star Etcetera Etcetera, Federal Greens Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi, and CARR’s April Holcombe.

Using Religion To Hurt Others

As rain threatened to pour down on Oxford Street, Dr Faruqi, spoke of another threat; that of the Bill.

“If people look into it [the Bill] it will be exposed for what it is – a complete Trojan Horse for hate,” she said. “It allows bigots and racists and homophobes to pile hate on the community. And it basically overrides hard won state laws that exist today, which protect people against discriminations and bigotry.”

She continued, “People should be able to practice their religion without being vilified. But I also know that people should not, should never be allowed to use their religion to hurt other people, and that’s what this bill allows.”

Zlotkowski, reflected on his lifetime of experience defending the LGBTQI community. He said, “Homophobic violence, like discrimination in education, employment, health care, and aged care all stems from a belief that some people are entitled to different rights from other people, simply because they believe. The supporters of this bill want a law to do unto others what they would not want done to them.”

They Are Bullies

Drag Race Down Under Star Etcetera Etcetera speaks at the rally against the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Etcetera Etcetera rallied the crowd and provided a message of support, “The words I hear uttered by these right wing conservatives are the same words I heard uttered by my bullies at school, and that is all they are – bullies. They are afraid of our beautiful beautiful souls, our beautiful right to express who we are.”

Breaking it down, Holcombe emphasised that the Bill is “about bigotry, it’s about privilege, it’s about the rich and the powerful wanting to have all the control, wanting to have the ability to decide where we work, how we work, when we work.”

Rallying the crowd, she said, “I’m so proud to be here with all of you today, to march, to get out there on the streets, to show we’re proud, we’re defiant. We represent the majority.”

Out Of The Bars, Into The Streets

Marching towards Hyde Park, the protesters flowed down Oxford Street chanting, “out of the bars and into the streets,” as bar patrons along the strip enthusiastically cheered from their bar stools in support.

“There is no inevitable march towards progress,” reminded Owen Marsden-Readford, a CARR activist.

“We have to fight. That is the long history of the fight for LGBTI, from Mardi Gras against this Bill today. From marriage equality [and] across the world against the horrendous bathroom bills and the culture warriors in the US, we have to continue to fight and we will continue to fight.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a key proponent of the Bill, was asked for a comment and we will update this article with his response when we receive it.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.



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